Prospect Profile: Shane Komine, RHP

Midland starting pitcher Shane Komine was one of the A's best pitching prospects before being felled by Tommy John surgery in the middle of the 2004 season. After nearly a year of rehabilitation, Komine returned to the mound in late June and has already made appearances at three different levels. We profile the Hawaiian hurler in this Prospect Profile.

Shane Komine, RHP, 5'8'', 160

After a stellar high school baseball career, Komine traded in the sunshine of Honolulu, Hawaii for the cold winters of Nebraska. Despite the change in climate, Komine flourished as a Cornhusker. In four seasons at Nebraska, the diminutive right-hander went 41-8, including a perfect 10-0 his senior season. Komine struck out 510 batters in 429 collegiate innings, while walking only 104. He threw a lot of innings in college, completing 18 games. That workload resulted in an elbow injury his final season, which also dropped his stock in the 2002 draft. The A's scooped him up in the 9th round that year.

Komine was limited to 25.2 innings with the Visalia Oaks (California League) during his first season with the A's organization in 2002. In 2003, he split his time between Kane County (Midwest League) and Midland (Texas League). He had an outstanding 2003 campaign, going a combined 11-7 with a 3.09 ERA in 157.2 innings for the two affiliates. He struck out 125 and allowed less than a hit per inning.

The Hawaiian native entered the 2004 campaign with an opportunity to move up the A's minor league starting pitching depth charts. He returned to Midland, but struggled to repeat his 2003 performance. Through his first 17 starts, Komine posted a 4.77 ERA and managed only 65 strikeouts in 94.1 innings. As it turned out, injury may have been the reason for the dip in Komine's performance. For the second time in three years, Komine went down with an elbow injury. This time, the injury was serious and Komine was shelved with Tommy John surgery.

After a lengthy rehab, Komine returned to active duty on June 27 as a member of the A's Rookie League team. After four short appearances with the Rookie A's, Komine was sent to Stockton, where he started to build up his arm strength as a starting pitcher. Komine made two starts for the Ports, going 8.2 innings. He allowed four runs, but he struck out 11. The A's saw enough in those performances to send him back up to Midland.

Since arriving in Midland, Komine has been pitching the way he had as a Rockhound in 2003 before he was injured. Komine has made two starts (one of 6.2 innings and one of 7 innings) and he has allowed only four earned runs over that stretch. Komine has struck out 14 while walking only three. He has allowed two homeruns, but has otherwise been dominant.

Komine's small stature will always make him a risk for injury. However, if he can stay healthy, Komine could have a real future in the major leagues. He has a low-90s fastball with good movement and a nasty slider. He also has an above-average change-up and he can add and subtract off of his fastball like a veteran.

For now, the A's will leave Komine in the starting rotation, but they may move him to the bullpen next season to protect the wear and tear on his elbow. He will be 25 years-old at the start of next season, so he'll have to prove himself at AAA early in the season to show that he is legitimate major league prospect. He could have a similar career to that of current A's fifth starter Kirk Saarloos, filling in various roles in the starting rotation and bullpen of a major league team.

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